Anthropological Approach to the Industrialization of Tea

Along with sugar and coffee, tea has captured the social imagination of many across the world. The tea trade sparked globalization because people who lived in countries where they could not readily access tea plants, needed them to be imported, which created a market to produce tea. And even further revolutionizing the very means of trade by creating many markets and employment opportunities to farm, and regulate it. Which leads many scholars to believe that the tea trade is largely responsible for the rise global capitalism. Fromer (2008) explains that tea played a major role in the building and strengthening of the British Empire because the new market that the tea trade created helped with the development of the British economy. The British East India company acquired many tea plantations around the world so they could produce vast amounts to be sold in each of their colonies, which was a major source of capital in the British empire (Fromer, 2008). This was made possible because as Goody (1982) shows tea is processed in a way that allows it to be transported across long distances, which is due to the industrialization of food and the production of food and tea plants are dried so that they are preserved. Preservation enables tea to last as it travels over long distances for sale (Lutgendorf, 2012). This transforms tea from plants to commodities that bear almost no resemblance to their starting point (Barndt, 2002). What I mean by this is that tea starts off as all plants do, growing from the ground, but between that starting point and the finished product, tea plants undergo a major transformation to the point where they look nothing like they do originally, which as Goody (1982) explains, is the rationale behind the industrialization of food.


For me, there is something special about enjoying a warm cup of tea in the morning. My family is from the West Indian country of Jamaica, which was a British colony that used to, and still does, regularly consume tea. As a result, they have conditioned me to drink a cup of tea every morning as well. The idea behind it is to warm up your stomach, which prepares you for your day. This practice has affected me to the point where I cannot start my day until I have a cup of tea and I feel so unprepared to start my day if I do not have any tea in my system. However, as of late, I have been working long hours at my jobs, sometimes I have to wake up really early, other times I work overnights, so my body is really tired and I am unable to wake up early enough to enjoy my tea (including before school), so I often have to do without. In its place, however, I try to pick up a coffee on my way. On days where I can relax, I usually make tea in my large mug and enjoy it by sipping it slowly. Prior to the major lifestyle change, I have always used to make my tea in specific ways depending on the situation. For example, I would drink Earl Grey or Orange Pekoe tea with milk on regular days and I would drink them with cream on more relaxed days. I think that this conditioning is due to the influence of power that Mintz (1996) highlights. According to Mintz, because the powerful are responsible for setting the structures and conditions in place, which ultimately sets the stage for the lower classes to adapt to those structures by enacting their agency, leading to the formation of norms. These norms then get spread on a large scale, until virtually everyone joins in on it and it becomes normalized until it gets replaced, but even then some may still hold onto them and they become ingrained. This follows from and further serves as evidence for what I previously explained in the previous section. All of this happens in the background without noticing. Instead, what we do notice is the personal meanings that we personally attribute to it. For me, tea is important to me because it allows me to clear my head every morning and relax. The sensation of the warm liquid running through your body really reduces my anxiety about what could occur during the day, which serves a refresher and it prepares me for the day. That is why, as I mentioned earlier in this section, if I do not get my warm cup of tea, I feel as though something is missing.



Barndt, Deborah. 2002. “Across Space and Through Time” In Tangled Routes: Women, Work, and Globalization on the Tomato Trail. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield. (pt 1). Pp.7-30.

Barndt, Deborah. 2002. “Untangling Roots: The Tomato Across Time” In Tangled Routes: Women, Work, and Globalization on the Tomato Trail. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield. (pt 2) Pp.31-53.

Fromer, Julie E. 2008. “Deeply Indebted to the Tea-Plant: Representations of English National Identity in Victorian Histories of Tea”. Victorian Literature and Culture 36(2). Pp. 531-547.

Goody, Jack. 1997. “Industrial Food: Towards the Development of a World Cuisine” reprinted in Food and Culture: A Reader. Carole Counihan, Penny Van Esterik, eds. New York: Routledge. Pp.338-356.

Lutgendorf, Philip. 2012. “Making tea in India”. Thesis Eleven 113(1). Pp. 11-31.

Mintz, Sidney. 1996. “Food and its Relationship to Concepts of Power.” In Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom: Excursions into Eating, Culture, and the Past. Boston: Beacon Press. Pp. 17-32.



Update #3

Unfortunately, it has been an awfully long time since I have posted anything on this site and I have decided that it is about time that I make my return.

There will be some changes to this blog in that I will be posting more things to help you to create a better version of yourself. This is not me claiming to know everything, it is just me trying help as many people as I can to believe in themselves, which is always a good thing. I have found that a majority of people have self-esteem issues, including myself, for whatever reason and I find that I deal with it by being productive. By being productive, I feel as though I am doing something with my time.

I will also be taking requests about topics, just comment below about what you would for me to talk about and I will do my best to write about it.

Fenugreek Sprouts

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh – A Philosophical Perspective

For this blog post, I have chosen “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. I have chosen this because Van Gogh is my favourite artist and this is a wonderful work of art done by him. This is artwork because it invokes feeling and it is a very inspiring piece that has been admired by many people, and it will continue to be admired for years to come. This piece is appealing because it is in a very traditional style of art and it gives the audience a feel of awe since the artist was able to do that kind of work in the premodern times, when they did not have the technology and the knowledge of art that we have now, and that in itself deserves admiration. My answers to the questions above reflect my views of art because I view that the way that we value art depends on what we view as art. Since we all have different views on what is beautiful and what is not, beauty is subjective and in the eye of the beholder so to speak. However in my answers, I show that some art is liked by a greater audience because of the simple feeling it invokes and the time in which it was produced. Though it may be liked by a greater audience, it still lacks objectivity because not everyone in the world will have the same view; their views may vary even in the simplest of terms. The theory that supports my view of aesthetics is Rene Descartes’ because in his theory, he believes that beauty pleases, and if something pleases, it is in some way beautiful. This means that the value of the aesthetics is based purely on how it is received by the people, or how they take it. Which agrees with what I think about art because of the varying degrees of interest and the acceptance by the people affects the value of the artwork. And because of everyone’s different experiences and ideas, every piece has a different value to each person. So in conclusion, the value that art carries varies from person to person, and therefore, it is more often than not, subjective.

Immanuel Kant – Theism

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who is considered a very important person in modern philosophy. Kant’s ideas of God come from his argument/differing views in comparison to fellow contemporary philosopher, David Hume, and his idea’s on empiricism, which is the belief that knowledge comes solely from what we experience. Kant believes that knowledge is neither empiricism or rationalism, but rather, both. Kant believes that knowledge is the unification of reason and experience. Kant refers to the idea of God and the immortal souls of humans (like passing on into another life, instead of dying of), as Ideas of Reason, which means that while those things cannot be experienced, they come from basic reasoning. Kant says that those concepts can be thought because they are generally positive, and lead to positive consequences for example, being inspired by the idea of God, will make the person act morally good.

Gottried Wilhelm Leibniz – Theism

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was another Christian philosopher, who instead of using basic ideas, he takes a counter argumentative stance to Atheism. Although he is more of a deist, he believes that God did create the universe, which is comparable to a theist. He argues that Atheists only see the bad in situations and so they are short-sighted. For example, if one were to look at a large picture, from a close perspective, it would look very disorganized and ugly; however if one were to look the picture from far away, we would see the whole picture for what it really is. So he argues that Atheists are the ones looking at the picture from a close perspective and they draw conclusions based on the negative things that they see rather than trying to get a different perspective and coming to a proper conclusion.

St. Thomas of Aquinas – Theism

St. Thomas of Aquinas was also a Christian philosopher and theologian, who came up with the “five ways” in his Summa Theologica. The five ways serves as a way to explain God and prove his existence based on what we experience through nature because he believed that in order to prove the existence of God, to people, he must be able to relate it to themselves. Aquinas believed that Anselm’s flaw must be addressed, and so he bases his five ways off of the ontological argument. The five ways are as follows: argument from motion, argument from efficient causes, argument from possibility and necessity, argument from gradation of being, and and argument from design.

Argument from Motion
In order for something to be put in motion, it must be set in motion by something else, either supernatural, or of a different type. The first mover has to be God because the mover has to be a supernatural (be not natural, for example: humans, animals, etc.) being and exist outside the natural world, or be of a different type. And in order to set everything else in motion, He must be of a different type than everything else.

Argument from Efficient Cause
Everything in nature requires a cause, something that is outside of the being itself. The efficient cause means that everything in nature requires a cause, which is outside of the being (like an external force, something that exists on its own) and it is necessary to arrive at the first efficient cause, which St. Thomas says is God. If there is not a first cause, simply nothing will happen because everything in nature requires a cause, like an illness for example, is caused by bacteria, and the spread of bacteria.

Argument from Possibility and Necessity
In nature there are possible beings that are possible because of the one necessary being. Possible beings are what is possible through the necessary being, which is God. What this means is that the necessary being is something that must exist because without it, much like the first mover, and the first cause, nothing can happen. There are only possible beings because of the necessary being.

Argument from Gradation of Being
There are beings that are “more” or “less”, the level depends on a being that is the cause of the goodness. What this means is that the cause of goodness is something to which creates and idea which we compare everything else to, for example cold is not an independent property, cold is instead, the lack of heat, but heat itself is the independent property, so when we are talking about how cold something is, we are talking about the lack of heat in it.

Argument from Design
Nature lacks intelligence, but every being is directed to its end (goal). The being which directs beings to their end is God. Basically, nature is being led to its end, and the one leading them is God.